MENU
EU Internal Policy

The biggest lie of all: The PM says Brexit could lead to war, but the truth is Europe’s more riven with hatred than at any time since 1945 because of the EU

Claim: David Cameron prompted derision when he said that Brexit would risk genocide and war
Claim: David Cameron prompted derision when he said that Brexit would risk genocide and war

It was perhaps the biggest lie of all. This week, David Cameron provoked universal derision by claiming that Europe risks sliding back into war and genocide if Britain votes to leave the EU.

He argued that it was only because of the EU that peace had been maintained on the continent over the past 70 years.

He couldn’t have been more wrong: for the fact is that Europe is now riven by more hatreds, divisions and conflicts than at any time since 1945 — and they are threatening to tear the continent apart.

And, of course, the irony is that the main cause of this potentially catastrophic situation is Brussels’ failed immigration and economic policies. Here, DOMINIC SANDBROOK explains why . . .

CHILLING RISE OF THE FAR RIGHT

This week’s resignation of the Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann was little noticed in Britain. But it was merely a symptom of a wider crisis that threatens to turn one of Europe’s richest, most stable and most self-satisfied countries into a bastion of the xenophobic far Right.

Thanks largely to popular fury at the migration crisis, the country’s far-Right Freedom Party is now comfortably the most popular in the land.

Its candidate for president, Norbert Hofer, seems almost certain to become Austria’s head of state after elections this month. Many experts believe that in that case, Austria’s coalition government would fall, paving the way for the Freedom Party to win an election and take control of key ministries, including the police.

Since Austria was famously the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, the prospect of a far-Right government taking power in Vienna has a peculiarly sinister resonance. But popular fury at the advent of 700,000 migrants into a country of barely eight million people means it is probably inevitable, turning Austria into a European pariah and inflaming tensions with its neighbours.

NOW RAZOR WIRE FENCES GO UP

To the horror of most outsiders, Hungary has already lurched towards aggressive authoritarianism.

First elected in 2010, its ultra-patriotic Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, has steadily eroded the independence of its banks, Press and even the judiciary, effectively turning himself into a dictator in all but name.

For Orban, the migration crisis has been a gift. He has used it to whip up popular antipathy to Muslims, the EU and even outsiders in general, erecting vast fences topped with razor wire along Hungary’s southern borders, boasting of his admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin and presenting himself as an old-fashioned nationalistic strongman.

As Orban tirelessly tells his supporters: ‘Hungarians won’t live according to the commands of foreign powers.’ In the long run, therefore, conflict with the EU — or even with Hungary’s appalled neighbours, such as Austria, Croatia, Slovakia and Serbia — may be unavoidable.

Clash: Migrants on the border between Macedonia and Greece, which has been closed thanks to the refugee crisis across Europe

LOATHING OF NEIGHBOURS

Nowhere has been more affected by the migration crisis than the southern Balkans, which still bear the scars of bullet-holes and burned-out buildings from the bloody wars in the former Yugoslavia in the mid-Nineties.

Fences and walls now run along the northern borders of Croatia and Serbia, as well as between Macedonia and Greece.

Not surprisingly, memories of former conflicts are still raw. In Bosnia and Kosovo, resentment seethes between local Muslims and Serbs. But the most obvious flashpoint is in Macedonia, where thousands of migrants have been injured in battles with armed riot policemen.

When the Greek government condemned Macedonia’s ‘indiscriminate use of chemicals, rubber bullets and stun grenades against vulnerable populations’, it only inflamed tensions between the two countries.

The Greeks have long feared Macedonian expansion into the north of their country, and their government even refuses to acknowledge the former Yugoslav republic’s name, accusing it of hijacking the heritage of Alexander the Great.

And given the presence of so many armed men on either side of the border — as well as thousands of desperate, hungry refugees — it is easy to see how resentment could escalate into outright conflict.

HATRED IN A DIVIDED NATION

Eighty years after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the people of Spain are in turmoil once again.

At the end of last year, the Catalan regional government ignored warnings from Madrid and voted to begin the process of building an independent Catalan state. Meanwhile, Spain’s economy — like that of its neighbour, Portugal — remains in dire straits.

With 45 per cent of young Spaniards out of work, many blame the EU for their economic plight. Yet far from being supportive, Brussels is taking an increasingly hard line, preparing this week to levy whopping sanctions on Spain and Portugal for their failure to cut their budgets to EU-approved levels.

With a general election due in June, polls show one in four Spaniards plans to vote for the hard-Left, anti-European Podemos party.

A Podemos victory would inevitably mean an open breach with Brussels, and could easily push Catalonia into a unilateral declaration of independence, with shattering consequences for Spanish unity and the wider European project.

POVERTY AND SIMMERING RAGE

When Greek security forces came under attack from petrol-bomb-throwing protesters last weekend, it was merely the latest in a series of clashes in one of the darkest periods in Greece’s recent history.

Brutalised by recession, stricken by austerity and outraged by what they see as the European elite’s callous indifference, thousands of Greeks have been driven into the arms of the far Right and extreme Left. Indeed, it is barely a year since the hard-Left Syriza government threatened to default on Greece’s debt and pull out of the Eurozone.

With youth unemployment still a staggering 49 per cent, it is little wonder that so many ordinary Greeks burn with rage against Angela Merkel, whom they blame for their plight.

And if, as some experts fear, a second financial crisis tips Europe back into deep recession, then the consequences could be catastrophic, boosting the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and reawakening memories of the civil war of the Forties, the armed coup of 1967 and the notoriously cruel dictatorship of the Greek Colonels in the years that followed.

Power: Marine Le Pen could end up controlling the government of France
Power: Marine Le Pen could end up controlling the government of France

LE PEN POISED TO TAKE CONTROL

France has already been under a state of emergency since the terrorist attacks last November, allowing police to conduct raids without warrants, to place large numbers of people under house arrest and to forbid any large gatherings.

In cities with large Muslim populations, such as Paris and Marseille, tensions remain high.

But what frightens many is the prospect of next year’s presidential election. With the incumbent, Francois Hollande, at barely 15 per cent in the polls, the runaway leader is the far-Right Front National’s leader Marine le Pen, who has exploited anti-Islamist and anti-migrant sentiment to command a double-digit lead over almost every other conceivable candidate for the job.

To most mainstream European observers, it seems almost unthinkable that France could fall under the control of a party like the FN, steeped in anti-Semitism and xenophobia, and reflecting a far-Right heritage stretching back to the pro-Nazi Vichy regime.

But with every passing month it seems increasingly plausible that, for the first time since the Forties, the extreme Right will control one of Europe’s major powers — which would almost certainly mean a direct confrontation with the EU.

NEW THREAT OF FINANCIAL CHAOS

italy has been shuffling towards disaster. Its notoriously fragmented banks are sitting on some £280 billion in bad loans, triggering fears that a banking crisis in the Italian peninsula could take down the entire European financial system. Meanwhile, with thousands of migrants flooding into the country every month, public support for the EU is wearing thin. This week, Italy’s finance minister even warned that the chaos on Europe’s borders was ‘going to be much more destructive than a crisis of the Eurozone’.

Not surprisingly, polls show Italian voters swinging towards the extremes. Almost one in three support the populist, anti-European Five Star Movement, while almost 15 per cent now back the separatist Northern League, which demands independence for northern Italy.

And to cap it all, the Mussolini name is back, with two of the dictator’s granddaughters standing for office in Rome for rival conservative parties.

GERMAN CONTEMPT FOR THEIR LEADER

Since reunification in 1990, Germany has been a beacon of stability. Yet Europe’s richest and most populous nation faces an unprecedented challenge. In just over a year, 1.2 million migrants have arrived in Germany, courtesy of Angela Merkel’s open-door policy.

But thanks to appalling scenes such as the New Year’s Eve riots in Cologne, where thousands of Middle Eastern men reportedly assaulted and robbed hundreds of women, popular sentiment has turned against the Chancellor.

Local elections in March saw unprecedented gains for the far-Right Alternative für Deutschland, which, after an aggressive anti-immigrant campaign, won a staggering 24 per cent of the vote in the Saxony-Anhalt region.

Not for decades has so openly xenophobic a party won such support in the heart of Germany.

Indeed, polls now suggest that two-thirds of German voters want Mrs Merkel to stand down before next year’s general election — an astounding turnaround given her popularity in recent years.

Since no other country matches its importance to the European project, the prospect of a rudderless Germany under untested leadership is deeply disturbing. And if the worst happens and there is a second financial meltdown, or if the migrant crisis provokes serious conflict in Hungary or Macedonia, a weakened Germany would be unable to provide the necessary leadership.

For Europe as a whole, the consequences could be devastating.

DICTATOR WHO COULD SPARK WAR

Even as thousands of British tourists head to Turkey this summer, this vast country, the bridge between Europe and Asia, is sliding closer towards violent chaos.

Although not an EU member, it has been a ‘candidate state, destined to join the Union’ since 1999. The latest step towards it joining was the agreement by Brussels in March to grant visa-free travel to its 75 million population inside Europe’s passport-free Schengen area.

EU leaders also agreed to give Turkey £4.7 billion — including £500 million from Britain — after it threatened to flood Western Europe with migrants.

In Turkey’s south-east, security forces are battling Kurdish separatists, while operations on the Syrian border have brought Turkey close to open conflict against Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which supports the Syrian president Assad.

Already this year, Islamist terrorist attacks have killed dozens of people in Istanbul and Ankara. In response, the increasingly autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered a massive security crackdown.

To many European observers, however, Erdogan is a central part of the problem. His increasingly authoritarian methods — jailing dissidents, closing liberal newspapers, having reporters beaten up, and violently suppressing opposition demonstrations — mean Turkey now looks more like a dictatorship than at any time in recent memory.

Indeed, many experts fear that Erdogan is deliberately playing on anti-Kurdish sentiment to secure his own power base against domestic opposition.

And if all-out fighting breaks out in the rebellious south-east, then Turkey could easily tip into civil war, with appallingly bloody results.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/columnists/article-3590040/The-biggest-lie-PM-says-Brexit-lead-war-truth-Europe-s-riven-hatred-time-1945-EU.html

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Help put the World to rights and leave a Comment

  Subscribe  
Notify of
MENU
Powered by: Wordpress
%d bloggers like this: